The following are excerpts from remarks made by Pope John Paul II during a meeting yesterday morning with U.S. bishops at Chicago's Quigley South Seminary. A Collegial Church
I come to you as a brother bishop: one who, like yourselves, has known the hopes and challenges of a local church; one who has worked within the structures of a diocese, who has collaborated within the framework of an Episcopal conference; one who has known the exhiliarating experience of collegiality in an Ecumenical council as exercised by bishops together with him who has presided over this collegial assembly and was recognezed by it as "totius ecclesiae pastor" -- invested with "full, supreme and universal power over the church."
I come to you as one who has been personally edified and enriched by participation in the Synod of Bishops; one who was supported and assisted by the fraternal interest and self-giving of American bishops who traveled to Poland in order to express solidarity with the church in my country. Racism
You repeatedly proclaimed human rights and human dignity and the incomparable worth of people of every racial and ethnic origin, declaring that "racial antagonism and discrimination are among the most persistent and destructive evils of our nation." You forcefully rejected the oppression of the weak, the manipulation of the vulnerable, the waste of goods and resources, the ceaseless preparations for war, unjust social structures and policies, and all crimes by and against individuals and against creation. Marriage, Contraception
With the candor of the gospels, the compassion of pastors and the charity of Christ, you [have] faced the question of the indissolubility of marriage, rightly stating [in a pastoral letter]: "The covenant between a man and a woman joined in Christian marriage is as indissoluble and irrevocable as God's love for his people and Christ's love for his church."
In exalting the beauty of marriage you rightly spoke against both the ideology of contraception and contraceptive acts, as did the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. And I myself today, with the same conviction of Paul VI, ratify the teaching of this encyclical, which was put forth by my predecessor "by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by Christ."
In portraying the sexual union between husband and wife as a special expression of their covenanted love, you rightly stated: "Sexual intercourse is a moral and human good only within marriage, outside marriage it is wrong." Homosexuality
As "men with the message of truth and the power of God," as authentic teachers of God's law and as compassionate pastors you also rightly stated: "Homosexual activity . . . as distinguished from homosexual orientation, is morally wrong."
In the clarity of this truth, you exemplified the real charity of Christ; you did not betray those people who, because of homosexuality, are confronted with difficult moral problems as would have happened if, in the name of understanding and compassion, or for any other reason, you had held out false hope to any brother or sister. Rather, by our witness to the truth of humanity in God's plan, you effectively manifested fraternal love, upholding the true dignity, the true human dignity, of those who look to Christ's church for the guidance which comes from the light of God's word. Abortion
You also gave witness to the truth, thereby serving all humanity, when, echoing the teaching of the council -- "From the moment of conception life must be guarded with the greatest care" -- you reaffirmed the right to life and the inviolability of every human life, including the life of unborn children. You clearly said: "To destroy these innocent unborn children is an unspeakable crime . . . . Their right to life must be recognized and fully protected by the law."
And just as you defended the unborn in the truth of their being, so also you clearly spoke up for the aged, asserting, "Euthanasia or mercy killing . . . is a grave moral evil . . . . Such killing is incompatible with respect for human dignity and reverence for life."
The following are excerpts from the pope's homily delivered during a mass in Chicago's Grant Park yesterday afternoon. One People
There are certain conditions that are necessary if we are to share in the evangelizing mission of the church. This afternoon, I wish to stress one of these conditions in particular, I am speaking about the unity of the church, our unity in Jesus Christ . . .
I am prompted to choose this particular aspect of evangelization by looking at the thousands of people whom I see gathered around me today. When I lift up my eyes, I see in you the people of God, united to sing the praises of the Lord and to celebrate his Eucharist. I see also the whole people of America, one nation formed of many people: E Pluribus Unum . . .
Your ancestors came from many different countries across the oceans to meet here with the people of different communities that were already established here. In every generation, the process has been repeated: new groups arrive, each one with a different history, to settle here and become part of something new . . . The pattern repeats itself over and over: E Pluribus Unum -- the many form a new unity. One Church
But there is another reality that I see when I look at you. It is even deeper and more demanding than the common history and union which you built from the richness of your different cultural and ethnic heritages -- those heritages that you now rightly want to know and to preserve. History does not exhaust itself in material progress, in technological conquest or in achievement only. Coming together around the altar of sacrifice to break the bread of the Holy Eucharist with the successor of Peter, you testify to this even deeper reality: to your unity as members of the people of God.
"We, though many, are one body in Christ." The church too is composed of many members and enriched by the diversity of those who make up the one community of faith and baptism, the one Body of Christ . . . .
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism," thus we are all bound together as the people of God, the Body of Christ, in a unity that transcends the diversity of our origin, culture, education and personality -- in a unity that does not exclude a rich diversity in ministries and service . . . .
Our unity in faith must be complete, lest we fail to give witness to the gospel, lest we cease to be evangelizing. No local ecclesia community therefore can cut itself off from the treasure of the faith as proclaimed by the church's teaching office . . .